Apr 6, 2010

[Carpenter Bees]

Written by Jeff Mock

Read by Chloe' Yelena Miller

infest the arbor: three neat shafts
evenly spaced in the last rafter.
The females dig in to hollow out
egg chambers. Nature gave them good
instincts: they bore in on the under-
face to shelter their shelter.
The dust of their tunneling speckles
the red roses white, as though
the roses themselves were infested.
Standing here, quiet, you can hear
the scrape-scrape-scrape of their diligence
and, there, in the first shaft, black
against the smooth, pale wood, a fore-
leg appears, then the other,
and with her mandibles, she pushes
the wood dust out. It’s unfortunate,
really, that chance landed them here.
They’re beautiful—metallic blue-
black, with salt-and-pepper fuzz like
a wrap about their shoulders—and
they are ingeniously designed:
on the foreleg, where the meta-
tarsus meets the tibia, is
a small, rounded cleft that they run
up their antennae to brush away
the dust. And they’re harmless: they rarely
sting. Still, they bore in, then turn
and burrow with the grain for a good
foot. It would take a month for them
to empty their egg chambers.
Then to breed, and year after year,
more would home in and adopt
these tunnels. And more tunneling in
the other rafters. More dust speckling
the roses. More buzz and beauty,
but each chooses his own beauty.
For the bees, you have poison;
for the rafter, woodplugs and glue
to seal up these shafts, these future-
chambers you cannot let bloom.